Quality statement 3: Alcohol education

Quality statement

Schools and colleges include alcohol education in the curriculum.

Rationale

Schools and colleges have an important role to play in helping children and young people to understand the harmful consequences of alcohol and in combating harmful (high-risk) drinking. Alcohol education should be used to increase knowledge about alcohol use and its effects. Learning and teaching about alcohol should be contextualised as part of promoting positive messages and values about keeping healthy and safe. Teachers and children and young people should be able to have open discussions about alcohol in the context of wider social norms, since one‑way information‑giving is not as effective in engaging children and young people in the topic and in affecting attitudes, values and behaviour.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence that schools and colleges include alcohol education in the curriculum.

Data source: Local data collection. Ofsted inspection reports contain information on the achievement of pupils, quality of teaching, behaviour and safety of pupils, and leadership and management for all schools and colleges. Also contained within the Health and Social Care Information Centre's Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People in England.

Outcome

Rates of absence from school or college related to alcohol.

Data source: Local data collection.

What the quality statement means for different audiences

Head teachers and school governors include alcohol education in the curriculum. Although alcohol education is not a statutory part of the curriculum, quality statements describe best practice that goes beyond minimum statutory requirements and can be used to help organisations improve quality.

Staff who have the trust and respect of the children and young people in the school or college deliver alcohol education as part of the curriculum. Staff should have received appropriate training and be able to provide accurate information using appropriate techniques.

Local authorities advocate that schools and colleges in their area include alcohol education in the curriculum. Public health teams can offer help with education and training of staff and provide schools and colleges with information and materials for teaching.

Children and young people in schools and colleges learn about keeping healthy and safe, and about alcohol use and its effects. This is done by giving them the chance to talk about the issues involved. This should help them to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to support their health and wellbeing.

Source guidance

Alcohol interventions in secondary and further education (2019) NICE guideline NG135, recommendation 1.1.1

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Schools

All schools (including academies, free schools and alternative provision academies) and pupil referral units (see the Department for Education's explanation of types of schools) and further education and sixth-form colleges as set out under the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (see the Department for Education's keeping children safe in education).

[NICE's guideline on alcohol interventions in secondary and further education]

Colleges

Colleges include:

  • academies and city technology colleges

  • further education colleges and sixth-form colleges.

[Adapted from NICE's guideline on alcohol interventions in secondary and further education]

Alcohol education

Specific time should be allocated within the school curriculum to help children and young people to develop the knowledge, attitudes and skills needed to support their own health and wellbeing. Alcohol education should be part of the whole-school approach, tailored for different age groups and take different learning needs into account (based, for example, on individual, social and environmental factors). It should aim to encourage children not to drink, delay the age at which young people start drinking and reduce the harm it can cause among those who do drink. Alcohol education programmes should:

  • increase knowledge of the potential damage alcohol use can cause – physically, mentally and socially (including the legal consequences)

  • provide the opportunity to explore attitudes to – and perceptions of – alcohol use

  • help develop decision-making, assertiveness, coping and verbal and non‑verbal skills

  • help develop self-esteem

  • increase awareness of how the media, advertisements, role models and the views of parents, peers and society can influence alcohol consumption.

[NICE's guideline on alcohol interventions in secondary and further education]

Equality and diversity considerations

It is important to take individual, social, cultural, economic and religious factors into account when delivering alcohol education, and to tailor it to the needs of the children and young people. Groups that may be at increased risk of under‑age drinking and alcohol abuse, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people, should be considered.